Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Day 113 of self-isolation - UK case numbers down

This is the 15th anniversary of the London 7/7 bombings. 52 innocent people murdered as they went about their daily business, and many more badly injured.

52 in one day. But now, we'd be happy if only 52 people died of Covid-19 in one day. It's not as bad as the 1000 per day we saw in April, but the 100 per day that we're seeing now is still many more than the other European countries are seeing.

I've already written about the bungling of our government, I won't go through that again. But they're still shy about telling people to mask while out and about. I see going unmasked in public during a pandemic, as similar to drink-driving. You're a danger to everyone near you.

But our daily case numbers are still down, although with the open-up only being a few days ago, it's too soon to see the effect.

Australia is seeing a resurgence of the pandemic; in Melbourne the virus is spreading and Victoria has locked down again. Melbourne will be locked down for six weeks, and it's a full stay-at-home lock down. If we become careless in the UK, we'll get the same problem.

In Brazil, president Bolsonaro (who said that Covid-19 is just a little flu, and who made a point of going unmasked) has become infected with Covid-19.

Monday, 6 July 2020

Day 112 of self-isolation - USA - 31.5 million unemployed

USA - 31.5 million unemployed

Thee are two US government agencies reporting unemployment.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 4.8 million jobs were created, unemployment dropped by 3.2 million. BLS claims that unemployment is 17.8 million.

The Labor Department (DOL) reported that the number of people on federal or state unemployment payments is 31.49 million

Which of those is right? My guess is, that just as is the case with anything else American, your opinion depends on whether you are Republican or Democrat.

So, as always with statistics, we need to dig a bit deeper, and look at how these numbers are collected.

The BLS does a survey of 54,000 households. And people fill in a questionnaire. I'm just wondering how someone on "furlough" or just laid off temporarily, would report their status. The BLS web site admits that its numbers are underestimates, because people who are now in a very unfamiliar situation aren't filling in the forms correctly.

The difference is people claiming "Pandemic Unemployment Assistance", 13.6 million people for federal and state combined.

But with the payouts, you don't have to do a survey. Actual money is being paid, so it's easy to count how many people are receiving that money.

So, although I realise that some people will prefer the lower unemployment number for political reasons, it seems to me that the statistical basis for the DOL number is much more solid.

There were 131 million people in employment before the 2020 crises struck. 31.49 million of them are collecting unemployment benefit.

So the current unemployment rate is 24%

Source for 31.49 million unemployed:

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Day 111 of self-isolation - following the science

Following the science

The Waitrose van came again today, bringing food, tissues and the Radio Times. And I got a reminder to pay a VAT bill that I already paid three months ago.

Last night, the pubs opened, and they were crammed. Indoors, shoulder to shoulder, unmasked. It's the worst possible situation for virus spreading.

On the other hand, theatres and cinemas? Outdoor events? Football but not cricket? First of all, out doors is safer than indoors, because indoors concentrates the virus particles, whereas outdoors they get blown away (and then killed by sunlight). I have a suspicion that this isn't based on "the science", but on the fact that pubs cater to more voters than theatres, and football more voters than cricket.

For some months now, I've been hearing "We're following the science". But you know and I know that there is a lot of uncertainty in many branches of science, and this situation is one of those. I've not seen the "scientific calculations" that led to pubs opening, and cricket not.

And I don't think I ever will.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Day 110 of self-isolation - Free at last!

Free at last!

No, not really. It's just a bit of opening up, and if that leads to an increase in the virus, the reversal in Leicester can happen elsewhere.

Here are the new guidelines.

  • You can meet in groups of up to two households 
  • When you are outside you can continue to meet in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines
  • Additional businesses and venues, including restaurants, pubs, cinemas, visitor attractions, hotels, and campsites will be able to open
  • Other public places, such as libraries, community centres, places of worship, outdoor playgrounds and outdoor gyms will be able to open
  • Stay overnight away from your home with your own household or support bubble, or with members of one other household
  • It will be against the law to gather in groups larger than 30 people, except for a limited set of circumstances to be set out in law
Pubs. That's the important thing. And why can we do this? Cases are down from 5000/day to a few hundred per day; deaths down from 1000/day down to a bit more than 100. Still too high, of course.

 At Drsolly Towers, we now have our part time cleaner coming in two days each week, and we're having picnics in the back garden with daughters and family. So, we've opened up slightly, but not as much as the rest of the country. We closed down before Bojo the Clown said, and we're opening up later than he wants.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Day 109 of self-isolation - A scammer is spanked

A scammer is spanked

I got a phone call from Mark at Microsoft Department. They've billed me for £299, do I want to cancel this? "Yes please," and the game was afoot.

We did some preliminary stuff - it wouldn't do to be too eager to fall for their scam. So I asked them which credit card this was on, and, obviously, they wouldn't tell me, because "this is a recorded line".

So then we got down to the meat of the scam. He talked me though going to their web site I did a whois on that, and it's based in West Bengal, India. No surprise there.

At their web site, there were several remote control possibilities, "Remote PC", "Anyplace", "Supremo" and others. He told me to click on Remote PC, which I did. A few clicks later, he gave me their code number to use. Bingo! Perfect. So we continued, and then I told him that my computer rebooted. So he talked me though going to "Remote PC" again, same effect. So he tried Anyplace. Similar problem. And then Anydesk. And guess what - rebooted again.

At that point, he became suspicious, and accused me of wasting his time. Well, yes. About two hours, altogether. But I didn't admit it, and went into a long riff about how he had called me, and he was rebooting my computer, and I want my £299 back, and I'm going to tell my credit card company, and just as I stopped to take breath, he hung up on me.

But it doesn't end there.

I phoned "Remote PC". I soon got through to someone who was also a security professional, and I told him what had happened, including that nine digit code number, which will allow the Remote PC people to track down who it is (I also told him the IP address of the web site, and the fact that the whois identified it as West Bengal).

He took the whole thing very seriously - no-ne wants their software to be used by a scammer. I think they've had a few reports of this before, but even if they hadn't, everyone knows that this is going on. The difference in this case, was that nine digit code number. I do believe that they will take action.

I also suggestedd that, once they hae the culprits identified, that they contact the other companies whose remote access software is being used for scamming.

It's nice to do my bit in closing down these criminals.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Day 108 of self-isolation - Local hot spots

Local hot spots

We don't know why these four towns are hot spots. It would be nice to know, if that could lead to action, but we already know what the action is - face mask, social distance, wash hands. The lockdown in Leicester is continuing for two more weeks (I suspect it will be more), and if things get worse in Bradford, they will have to lock down again also. And that will be very unpopular.  

The biggest problem in the UK is masking - the lack of it. People just don't seem to understand the importance, and I blame the government for this. Right at the start, we were wishy-washy on masking, because the government was worried about the availability of PPE. But we aren't talking about PPE-grade masks. A simple cloth over the mouth and nose, and spectacles (or sunglasses) over the eyes will have a major effect.

My view is that every senior politician should wear a mask in public, whether they think it's necessary or not. And every junior politician, civil servant and government employee. Leadership is best done by example.

I doubt if it's feasible to make it compulsory. We tried that on public transport, and maybe that can be made to stick (I doubt it). It has to be done because people want to do it. Which means education and leadership by example.

America is a lost cause. Masking there has become a party political issue - can you believe that? And American infection numbers are rising horribly fast. Travel from America to Europe is being banned.

Let's not have the same thing happening here.

Day 107 of self-isolation - opening up

Today, our cleaning lady comes in.

15 weeks ago, we put her on paid leave. Since then, Ladysolly has been doing the lion's share of keeping house, with occasional minor assistance from me. To my eye, the place is in pretty good shape, but I am notoriously lax about such things, and I am reliably informed that it needs a thorough deep clean.

This is a huge step. For 15 weeks, we have not allowed anyone in the house, and we've only left the house for walks in places where we know we'd be several yards from anyone, and to get blood tests. Groceries - delivered. Medicines - delivered.  Everything else - delivered.